Faulty goods: know your rights if things go wrong (2022)

Does this story sound familiar? You buy a fancy piece of technology and spend hundreds or maybe thousands of euro on it. Then, 13 months or so down the line, it dies but when you brings it back to the shop you are told that as the warranty has expired, there is nothing that can be done. So you go away you go. Disconsolate.

But is that really the case? Is the end of the warranty marked by some entirely arbitrary point in time the end of the story? Or can you look elsewhere for redress? We thought we'd put together a handy cut-out-and-keep Q&A to help you the next time something goes wrong.

Is a warranty the be-all and end-all?

It’s complicated. For a start you’re dealing with guarantees, warrantees, extended warranties, multiple pieces of legislation going back generations and a staggering amount of ignorance at retailer and manufacturer level. But the good news is that you probably have more protection than you think if things go wrong with something you’ve bought.

Talk to me about the ignorance first?

It’s widespread. One of the reasons so many retailers and so many manufacturers try and fob you off with talk of expired warranties is because they themselves haven’t a clue what they are talking about a lot of the time.

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Really?

Really. Last month the British consumer magazine Which? published details of an investigation that found that almost 50 major retailers, including Tesco, Iceland and Aldi – all of which have operations in the State – were misinforming or failing to provide clear information to shoppers about returns rights on their websites.

(Video) Faulty Product or Poor Service? - Consumer Rights Everyone Should Know

The consumer watchdog assessed massive amounts of information about online returns and faulty goods rights on the websites of big retailers and found that 45 of 46 failed to offer information that was entirely accurate and clear.

That’s a lot. What kind of misinformation are we talking about?

Some retailers have the wrong information about returning faulty goods and unwanted online purchases. Others did not make a distinction between their own store returns policies and statutory rights. Others presented misleading information that wrongly encouraged customers to pursue faulty goods claims with warranty providers – who are typically the manufacturers – first.

Well that’s not good, is it?

Oh, that's not all. Last month the European Consumer Centre Ireland felt it necessary to remind all traders to make sure their staff knew what EU consumers' entitlements when a product is faulty were, and that these entitlements are in addition to extra protections provided by a manufacturer's guarantee or warranty.

What else did the European Consumer Centre say?

"Problems with the functioning of a product do occur and obviously this is not necessarily the fault of the trader who sold it," is what European Consumer Centre Ireland spokeswoman Martina Nee said. "However, what is within the trader's control is to ensure that it is abiding by obligations under EU and national consumer legislation and that staff provide consumers with the correct information when a fault is reported to them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case."

She went that on to say that on “a regular basis we hear reports where consumers are wrongly led to believe things like, if the manufacturer’s guarantee or warranty is out of date or doesn’t cover a particular issue, then that’s it, the consumer is not entitled to anything else or doesn’t have any other rights. In other cases, staff may have informed consumers that it’s not up to the trader who sold the good to provide remedies and to take the matter up directly with the manufacturer.”

(Video) Know Your Rights About Returning Goods - Part 1 | This Morning

And that is not the case?

No, traders, as well as consumers, need to be aware that the sales contract is with the seller and so it is up to them to provide redress.

Okay, so can we start at the beginning. What’s a guarantee?

Finally, a simple question. A guarantee is an agreement from the manufacturer saying that they will repair or replace an item you bought if something goes wrong for a set period of time after you bought it. It is important to reiterate that with or without a guarantee, your consumer rights are the responsibility of the seller of the goods not the manufacturer. The guarantee is there to give you additional protection and strengthens your consumer rights to a repair, replacement or refund.

Is that not what a warranty is?

Well, according to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website a "shop may ask if you'd like to take out a warranty when you are buying a product from them. It is similar to an insurance policy and normally protects you from having to pay for repairs if the item you bought breaks or becomes faulty within the period covered by the warranty. It is important to know that a warranty is completely optional. If you are buying a product that you're going to have for a long period of time it may be easier to get satisfaction by having a warranty. However, you should always factor in the total cost of the warranty before you buy."

Buy? I thought there was no charge for a warranty?

There often isn’t. This is just another area where there language is confusing. Some products, sellers and manufacturers refer to guarantees, others use the word warranties – and then there are extended warranties.

What are they again?

Extended warranties are supposed to insure you against the cost of repairs for a period after a guarantee runs out, but – in our experience – they do not represent great value for money. In too many cases, extended warranties are sold by retailers to maximise shop profits and not for the benefit of the paying public who can be vulnerable to pushy sales tactics just after they have made a major purchase.

(Video) Returning goods out of warranty - Which? investigation

The reality is the premiums for many extended warranties mean that, although you might be getting peace of mind, you are paying a horrendous price for it. The warranty on something that costs €150 can be as much as €30, and if you buy a €200 vacuum cleaner you can expect to pay €50 for three years’ cover. A three-year warranty on a computer that cost €1,000 will be about €200, while a five-year warranty will set you back €300.

Not only that, but if a product is going to break down, that is most likely to happen in the first year after purchase, in which case you will be covered by guarantees. And even if a product of breaks down after a year, you should still be able to get redress from the retailer using your statutory rights.

What exactly are my statutory rights?

EU consumer legislation has provided a sort of "legal guarantee" that entitles consumers across Europe to seek this redress when a good is faulty for a period of up to two years.

Two years? That’s good, right?

It’s better if you live in the Republic of Ireland. Under Irish law, the limitation period is actually six years. If a fault arises within the first six months of purchase, it is presumed to have existed at the time of delivery and it is up to the seller to prove otherwise or provide remedies. After six months, the consumer may be requested to show that the lack of conformity (eg, a hidden defect) already existed at the time of delivery. The seller should first offer a repair or replacement (liaising with the manufacturer if necessary) and provide this free of charge. If this is not possible or fails to correct the problem, then the consumer may request a refund.

Six years? That is a very long time.

Well, it does depend on multiple factors. The amount you pay for a product and the reasonable expectations as to how long it lasts are key here. If you spend €3,000 on a sofa and it falls apart after three years through no fault of your own then you can most likely seek redress under the Sale of Goods Act. Similarly if your spend €1,000 on a smart phone that just stops working after 14 months then you can seek redress. If the digital watch you bought for a fiver in a discount store breaks after five years , 11 months and 29 days and you wander in looking for a refund you can most likely whistle for it.

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Is there something useful I can quote if I am having a row in a shop?

Well, you could quote the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. We asked them for some guidance and were sent the following:

Where a trader sells a faulty good to a consumer, and where the fault is not attributable to consumer misuse, the consumer is entitled to appropriate redress under either the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Acts 1893 and 1980 or the European Communities (Certain Aspects of the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees) Regulations 2003 (the CSD Regulations). It is important to note that goods are not expected to last forever but should be as durable as a reasonable consumer would expect.

The Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Acts 1893 and 1980 and the CSD Regulations respectively offer similar rights to consumers and impose similar obligations on traders.

This legislation sets out that a product must be of merchantable quality, be fit for purpose, be as described and correspond to the sample (where appropriate). If the product develops a manufacturing fault, a consumer is entitled to seek a repair, replacement or refund and the seller of the goods (generally the retailer) is responsible for providing this redress.

Guarantees/warranties, whether free or paid for by the consumer do not replace the statutory rights but rather operate in parallel. Consumer rights provided for under a guarantee/warranty cannot limit or exclude a consumer’s statutory rights provided for under the CSD Regulations or the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Acts 1893 and 1980. In circumstances where a guarantee/warranty has expired or is not covered under the guarantee/warranty, a consumer can still pursue a remedy under their statutory rights. In addition if the guarantee/warranty is still in date, the consumer has the option of not utilising the guarantee/warranty and pursuing the seller of the goods through their consumer rights under the consumer protection legislation detailed above.

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FAQs

What are your rights if an item is faulty? ›

You'll have legal rights if the item you bought is: broken or damaged ('not of satisfactory quality') unusable ('not fit for purpose') not what was advertised or doesn't match the seller's description.

What are my rights faulty goods No receipt? ›

Faulty items

Under the Consumer Rights Act as long as you return an item within 30 days of purchase you can do so without a receipt and still have the right to a full refund. If you don't want to return or exchange the item then you can ask for it to be repaired. You also have much longer to do this – up to six months.

Can a retailer refusing a replace faulty goods? ›

30-day right to reject

Under the Consumer Rights Act you have a legal right to reject goods that are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described, and get a full refund - as long as you do this quickly. This right is limited to 30 days from the date you buy your product.

Do I need proof of purchase for a faulty item? ›

With faulty goods, you simply need to prove purchase. This could be the receipt, but any other legitimate record – such as a bank statement – should be fine. However, if you've no legal right but are simply utilising a store's return policy, then you'll need a receipt if that's what the policy says.

What are my rights as a customer? ›

Buying products

Satisfactory quality: The product shouldn't be damaged or faulty when you receive it. Fit for purpose: You should be able to use it for what the seller says it will do (its purpose), whether that's their statement when you buy it, or an answer to your question.

What do I do with a faulty item? ›

For a minor failure, the business can offer you a refund, replacement or to repair the product free of charge. If the business refuses to fix the problem or is taking too long, you can ask someone else to fix the problem and request compensation from the retailer.

Can a shop refuse to give me a refund? ›

It depends on your reason. If an item is faulty or has broken - in other words, doesn't comply with the Sale of Goods Act - then the retailer has a duty to offer a refund, exchange or repair. But if you simply don't like the purchase, then that's not a good enough reason.

Who is responsible for faulty goods? ›

The shop has the legal liability to fix the item. If the item is faulty then you will have your legal rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 against the retailer.

What are the 8 basic rights of the consumers? ›

  • Consumer's rights to enforce terms about goods.
  • Right to reject.
  • Partial rejection of goods.
  • Time limit for short-term right to reject.
  • Right to repair or replacement.
  • Right to price reduction or final right to reject.

Can you reject faulty goods? ›

If the item is faulty or not fit for purpose you have the right to reject or return the goods and demand a refund, a repair or a replacement. You must inform the seller within 30 days of receiving it if you decide to reject the goods and have a refund.

What is the law on faulty goods UK? ›

You must offer a full refund if an item is faulty, not as described or does not do what it's supposed to. Check when you have to offer refunds and accept returns. Customers have exactly the same rights to refunds when they buy items in a sale as when they buy them at full price.

Can a company refuse to refund a defective product? ›

Customer Returns and Refunds Under Federal Law

While many retailers have decided this makes for the best business practice, they aren't legally required to accept returns. Rather, retailers are required to accept returns only if the sold good is defective or if they otherwise break the sales contract.

How long do you have to return faulty goods? ›

Within six years – the longest you have to claim fault.

However people often confuse this and think it means goods must last six years – that just isn't true. To work out what is a reasonable length of time, you have to simply imagine what a reasonable person would say was reasonable.

How long do I have to reject faulty goods? ›

In the first 30 days after purchase, you have the right to reject the goods. This means you can return an item that doesn't meet the three criteria for a full refund.

What is adequate proof of purchase? ›

Other types of proof of purchase include: credit or debit card statement. a lay-by agreement. a receipt or reference number given for phone or internet payments. a warranty card showing the supplier's or manufacturer's details and the date and amount of the purchase.

How do I complain about faulty goods? ›

Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone. You can also use an online form.

What are the 5 rights of a consumer explain? ›

Consumer rights are consumer protections that encourage businesses to produce products and services that will be beneficial and safe for consumers. In this lesson, we will identify and discuss the five major rights of consumers: safety, information, choice, voice, and redress.

What rights do consumers have when buying products? ›

Under Australian Consumer Law, most products and services bought in Australia (from 1 January 2011) come with automatic consumer guarantees that the product or service you purchased will work and do what you asked for. Products must be of acceptable quality, that is: safe, lasting, with no faults.

How do you respond to customer who received damaged items? ›

Below are six steps your team can take to turn disappointment into delight.
  1. Respond to the customer's inquiry promptly — within minutes if possible; by the end of day if need be. ...
  2. Take full responsibility. ...
  3. Get as much information as you can from the customer. ...
  4. Promise immediate action and a prompt resolution.
14 Jun 2018

What are the consumer responsibilities? ›

Consumer Responsibilities

Be honest in your dealings and choose only legal goods and services. Ask for a bill on purchase of goods or services. File complaint in case of poor quality of good or service. Avoid waste, littering and contributing to pollution.

What are the 4 reasons a business can refuse to give a refund? ›

A business can refuse to give you a free repair, replacement or refund if: you simply changed your mind. you misused the product or service in a way that contributed to the problem. you asked for a service to be done in a certain way against the advice of the business, or were unclear about what you wanted.

What to do if a merchant refuses to refund? ›

If asking the merchant for a refund didn't work, request a chargeback with your credit card issuer. Many card issuers let you dispute transactions by phone, mail or online. You may also be able to submit a dispute directly through your card issuer's mobile app.

What are the consumer rights for refunds? ›

A refund should be the full amount the consumer paid for the product. Refunds should be provided in the same form as the original payment, unless the business and consumer agree otherwise. A consumer can also choose to keep the product but be compensated for the drop in value caused by the problem.

What is a faulty product called? ›

A product defect is any characteristic of a product which hinders its usability for the purpose for which it was designed and manufactured. Product defects arise most prominently in legal contexts regarding product safety, where the term is applied to "anything that renders the product not reasonably safe".

What can the buyer do if faulty goods are delivered? ›

Introduction. Under consumer law, if a product or service breaks, is not fit for purpose or does not do what the seller or advertisement said it would do, you can ask for a repair, replacement or refund. Repairs, replacements and refunds are known as remedies.

What do companies do faulty products? ›

If a business supplies you a faulty or unsafe consumer product, you can ask for the good or service to be fixed under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). If a product fault is minor and can be fixed, the retailer can choose to repair the item, replace it, or refund your money.

What is the most important right of a consumer? ›

Right to Safety: This is the first and the most important of the Consumer Rights. They should be protected against the product that hampers their safety. The protection must be against any product which could be hazardous to their health – Mental, Physical or many of the other factors.

What are the 7 consumer responsibilities? ›

1Be honest with the information you provide.
4Know how to make a complaint.
5Use the product or service in line with the terms and conditions.
6Avoiding risk.
7Apply for products and/or services that meet your needs.
11 more rows

What are consumer rights in simple words? ›

The definition of Consumer right is 'the right to have information about the quality, potency, quantity, purity, price and standard of goods or services', as it may be the case, but the consumer is to be protected against any unfair practices of trade. It is very essential for the consumers to know these rights.

What is Argos policy on faulty goods? ›

My item is faulty

If you still need to return a faulty item within the first 30 days, we will offer you an exchange, replacement or a refund.

Can you dispute a charge for a faulty product? ›

Maybe the product you received was defective or you didn't receive what you ordered. Ask the company if it will reverse the charge. If you're not satisfied with the merchant's response, you may be able to dispute the charge with your credit card company and have the charge reversed.

What are examples of proof of purchase? ›

Examples of proof of purchase include: a credit or debit card statement. a lay-by agreement. a receipt or reference number (for phone or internet payments) a warranty card showing the supplier's or manufacturer's details, date and amount of the purchase.

How can I show proof of purchase without receipt? ›

Check back through your credit card and bank statements to see whether your purchase shows up there, and if it does, you can print copies of your statements and use those as proof of purchase. Most companies will accept this as a replacement for a lost receipt.

What makes every purchase order valid? ›

The purchase order should include a clear description, quantity, price, payment terms, and necessary delivery details. In most cases, when the supplier accepts a purchase order it becomes legally binding. They've entered into an agreement, and are now bound to deliver the goods.

Can I claim compensation for faulty goods? ›

Damages. A consumer can claim damages, which will generally equate to the cost of repair or replacement of the goods. They may also be able to claim compensation for damage caused by faulty goods (for example, where a washing machine leaked).

How do I get my money back from a defective product? ›

How to get your money back after a bad purchase
  1. Take time to cool off. ...
  2. Complain in public via social media. ...
  3. Contact your local consumer protection office. ...
  4. Contact your state attorney general's office. ...
  5. Contact the Better Business Bureau. ...
  6. Register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. ...
  7. Try small claims court.
25 Nov 2019

Who is liable for faulty goods? ›

The shop has the legal liability to fix the item. If the item is faulty then you will have your legal rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 against the retailer.

Can shops refuse to give you a refund? ›

It depends on your reason. If an item is faulty or has broken - in other words, doesn't comply with the Sale of Goods Act - then the retailer has a duty to offer a refund, exchange or repair. But if you simply don't like the purchase, then that's not a good enough reason.

When can I return faulty goods? ›

Within six years – the longest you have to claim fault.

However people often confuse this and think it means goods must last six years – that just isn't true. To work out what is a reasonable length of time, you have to simply imagine what a reasonable person would say was reasonable.

What are my statutory rights for a refund? ›

Statutory consumer rights: a definition

In case of online, phone, or postal sales, customers may return an item without any reason for a full refund. That means, irrespective of whether an item is defective or not, it can be returned within 14 days after receipt.

Can you get compensation and a refund? ›

What are additional compensation for canceled flights? Passengers can receive both a refund of an airline ticket and compensation for the cancellation, provided that their flight qualifies for compensation.

What rights protect us from shoddy goods compensation? ›

The right to redress.

This is your right to be compensated for misrepresentation, shoddy goods, or unsatisfactory services.

What do you say when a customer wants to get a refund? ›

What should I include in a refund request response email?
  1. Acknowledge that you've received the refund request.
  2. Let the customer you are resolving their complaint as quickly as possible.
  3. Provide an estimate of how long will it take to handle the request.
  4. Explore other options for solving the issue before opting for a refund.

How long does a company have to repair faulty goods? ›

Returning goods during the first 6 months.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that if you have purchased a product which is or has become faulty in the first 6 months after purchase, then the retailer must inspect the product to deem whether it was the consumer that caused the fault or not.

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